By Chris Robinson
I don’t think anyone in the sport of boxing would question the ambition of Ireland’s Andy Lee.
Having seen his career momentarily set back with his upset loss to Brian Vera in March of 2008, Lee has since proven to be one of the busiest contenders in the sport and is now staring a June 16th date with WBC middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. square in the face.
Having gone 13-0 with eight knockouts over the past four years, including a unanimous decision over Vera this past October in a desired rematch, Lee admits that he has been learning much on the job.
“Most of all I’d say it’s been an education,” Lee told me recently. “I’ve been keeping busy. Not always big fights, but some big fights mixed in between some of the smaller fights. But every fight I’ve had since then I’ve learned something. I’ve been in a lot of training camps and I’ve picked up a lot of experience over the past few years. I’ve fought a lot of different guys with different styles, been in different situations, faced adversity, and I fought my way through. I’m back near the top now and it’s been a good journey.”
Trained by the renown Emanuel Steward, Lee concedes that he has been getting a deep understanding of all aspects of the sport.
“Every day you’re picking up stuff, you’re learning stuff about boxing,” Lee added. “Not just about boxing, but the fight game, the promotional side, the manager side, and Manny’s got a wealth of experience that I don’t think that anybody else can compare to. Being around him, you always pick up stuff and learn stuff. To me he’s the greatest trainer in boxing and maybe the greatest trainer of all time.”
Chavez’s road to a world championship may have been a little paved yet he has shown himself to be a professional while inside of the ropes. Lee too is wise enough to acknowledge the progress Chavez has made over the past few years but seems to be chomping at the bit to really test their skills against one another.
“He comes forward and he’s predictable in his attack,” Lee said of Chavez. “He likes to push forward and use his weight. He usually has a heavy weight advantage in his fights, but he won’t have that with me. His defense isn’t great and he gets hit a lot. Most of the time he likes to come forward and brawl. I think he’ll be trying to come forward and I’ll be trying to stay on the outside and box. I see a lot of flaws but I’ll just keep them to myself until the fights over.”
Earlier this week, Argentina’s Sergio Martinez, the man recognized as the best middleweight in the world, signed a contract to face off with the winner of the Chavez-Lee match.
Martinez will be a favorite in a September duel no matter who he ends up facing and Lee has no qualms giving Sergio his due respect.
“Sergio has shown that he always finds a way to win,” stated Lee. “When the chips are down, he always steps up. Against Pavlik, in the middle rounds it looks like he might have been losing but he found a way to win and recently against Barker and Macklin, he did the same. Sergio is a good champion. He fights whoever is out there, he’s looking for bigger fights and I’m very impressed with him.”
Asked if a match with Martinez was something he was going to pursue anyways, Lee was sharp with his response.
“He’ll be the one angling for me, because I’ll be the champ,” said Lee.
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